Hello SOTGC community,
Here’s a Test:
Which of these images is of a woman with binge eating disorder? If you answered all 10, you are much farther along than I was a few years ago.
I’m posting these, not as a gimmick or shrine to myself, but instead to discuss in real time what it is like to look at a person and make a snap judgment about them, their health or their mental wellbeing. That may seem like a tall order but I think we can get through this and learn something together.
My name is Lizabeth and I finally realized I suffered from binge eating disorder a few years ago. At that time what I knew about myself deep down was that I desperately wanted to “take the weight off for good”, that I was somehow weak willed and that I was doomed to always feel ugly, saggy, bloated and old. I was desperate to be thin again and I literally prayed, like I pray for the health and wellbeing of my family, that this time it would somehow stay off and I could finally be happy with Me.
What is A Binge?
For those who have never experienced a binge, it’s comparable to a reflex in as much as it happens without you initiating the sequence intentionally. Have you ever tried to hold your breath because you smelled something gross but you eventually failed and had to breathe that bad smell? …. it’s sort of similar. Even though a person who binge eats knows they don’t want to succumb to a binge, their internal systems override their conscious decision making skills and, like the body knowing it needs air, the binge fulfills the need being suppressed, and often that need is for comfort and soothing.
The Internal Monologue:
I’d spent the sum total of years waiting to feel good about myself because I couldn’t imagine feeling good unless I was shaped different than I was. Mostly because what I saw in the mirror never registered as healthy or average, what I saw made me feel shame. The image in the mirror was never shaped “right” when I was thin, and when I wasn’t thin it was like looking at an enormous canvas with all of the words we associate with fat written all over it. “Sweaty”, “Rotund”, “Lazy”, “Stupid”, “Old”, “Worthless”, “Ugly”, “Disappointment”, “Trying Too Hard”, “Hopeless”, “Embarrassing”. According to my thoughts, people were nice to me because I’m nice or because I’m funny or because they were related to me, but I knew in my heart that when they thought about me in private, they thought of me as a fat, pitiful, misfit. So it goes to follow that I couldn’t feel good about myself until my shape dictated that I appeared otherwise, both to myself and they way I assumed everyone else saw me.
That assumption is immensely burdensome if you think about how much psychic energy it takes to orchestrate the internal conversations of everyone you’ve met and to believe those things about yourself on top of it.
On top of that messed up, mental jujitsu, I piled on guilt for not being an ideal beautiful wife; for no longer being a beautiful daughter as compared to the shrine of decades old photos that my parents kept; for not contributing to household finances enough; for that inevitable matter of aging and for the fact that the only way to make the above guilt manageable was to engage in a shameful, degrading secret; my bingeing. The thing that I dreaded not only because it left the indelible stamp of excess on my frame, but because it scared me to lose control around food and it infuriated me to feel soothed by it.
Stay tuned for the next post where we continue the discussion: does a person’s health, mental or otherwise can’t be gauged by how ‘fit’ they look